The Definitive Guide to DC Films and the future of the DCEU

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Jan 22, 2021, 1:50 PM EST (Updated)

DC Films and Warner Bros. have been nothing if not enigmatic. While it may seem like The Riddler is running things over there -- with a mix of official announcements, leaks, reports, rumors, director and writer changes, and some downright crazy twists and turns -- it’s more likely that we’re simply more privy to the inner workings of Hollywood now than we have been in the past. Make no mistake, WB is investing big in DC Films, and their hiring last year of Geoff Johns and Jon Berg to co-head the division and steer it into the future was a major step in making the DC Extended Universe (DCEU, their name for the shared universe) into the next big thing.

However, it’s a difficult landscape to navigate and keep up with, one of the perils of announcing so many films so early. Marvel Studios has gone through similar, shifting dates and creative teams throughout the process, bumping up sequels and bumping back new solo debuts, but thanks to an established, nearly 10-year-old universe and regular releases, those moves don’t appear as chaotic. The DCEU is still learning to fly, perhaps before it’s mastered leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

So, SYFY WIRE is here for you to make as much sense as possible of all this. We have the officially announced movies, the unofficially announced movies, the confirmed movies that have logos, the dates that WB has reserved for DC movies, and more. You’ll see a few repeats here, as they fall into more than one category, just so we can keep everything straight.

The first section, movies with actual, official release dates, is also the second smallest. Sorry.


Announced and Dated

This is an easy one – despite the huge list of movies that are in one level of development or another, only a tiny handful have official release dates.

Justice League hits theaters Nov. 17, 2017, from directors Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon.

Aquaman comes out Dec. 21, 2018, from director James Wan.

Shazam from David F. Sandberg will shoot next, filming early next year for a 2019 release that is most likely (but not yet confirmed) either Apr. 5 or June 14.

Wonder Woman 2 hits Dec. 13, 2019, reteaming director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot.

And that’s it – only four movies have anything approaching a set release date in the DCEU at this time.


Initial Group of Announcements

Of the initial DC movies announced, three have already been released (Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman), with the fourth (Justice League) coming in November. In addition, they announced The Flash, initially for 2018, Aquaman for 2018, Shazam for 2019, Justice League Part Two for 2019, Cyborg for 2020, and Green Lantern Corps for 2020.

Of those, obviously, The Flash, after losing two directors and still searching for the third to sign on, will not be coming out next year. In fact, it’s since been retitled Flashpoint, implying it’ll be set in the messed up alternate universe, and possibly use alternate versions of the heroes and villains we know from the DCU. It's being written, and searching for a new director. Ezra Miller will return as The Flash.

As of right now, Justice League Part Two is off the schedule entirely, and we don’t know if/when a Justice League sequel will get off the ground. If the first shatters box office in November, expect this to make a fast-paced comeback.

Cyborg and Green Lantern Corps are still on the way, but with several announcements since, there are only so many dates. Don’t be surprised to see one or both of these get bumped out of the 2020 release year. GLC is further along, with writers working on the script.


The Bat-Family Grows

Nightwing is in the works, with Bill Dubuque (Ozark, The Accountant) writing and Chris McKay (LEGO Batman Movie) directing. No timeframe, but scuttlebutt is that it’s moving along fairly quickly.

Batgirl was also announced earlier in 2017, with Joss Whedon set to write and direct the film. Work on that won’t start until he’s done pinch-hitting for Zack Snyder on Justice League, finishing reshoots and editing (Snyder had to step down due to a family tragedy). This will reportedly pull heavily from Gail Simone’s run on the character.

The Batman has been a couple of different movies at this point. Originally co-written and directed by star Ben Affleck, it’s now being rewritten by Matt Reeves and a writing team he’s choosing. Reeves will direct, with official word being that Affleck is still starring, though there have been rumors and speculation otherwise. Despite a wonky quote and some misinterpretation, this movie will be in the DCEU, though it’ll largely stand on its own.


Announced Sequels

Justice League 2, Man of Steel 2, Wonder Woman 2, Suicide Squad 2 have all been announced. However, only Wonder Woman 2 has a release date. Suicide Squad 2 is next furthest along, as it at least has a script being written, a logo revealed, and several castmembers set to return.


Other Announcements

Justice League Dark wasn’t part of the first announcement, actually coming much earlier. It originally had Guillermo del Toro attached, looking to unite the magic users of the DCU for an adventure. Doug Liman then stepped in – and also stepped down. The movie has had a couple of script drafts and is in rewrites, but DC Films re-confirmed it (as seen below) at SDCC 2017.

An untitled Joker/Harley Quinn film is the most recent news (not officially announced by WB/DC). A vehicle planned for Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, this will be helmed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, who directed Crazy, Stupid, Love, which fittingly could be a great title for a Joker/Harley movie. The initial report says they’re looking for this after Suicide Squad 2, so don’t expect it too soon.

Gotham City Sirens is another in-development spin-off of Suicide Squad, meant to be a Margot Robbie/Harley Quinn vehicle. It will also feature Catwoman and Poison Ivy, her teammates from the comic book of the same name. Geneva Robertson-Dworet is writing the screenplay. This film’s release/development schedule is now up in the air thanks to the Joker/Harley movie above, though.

Black Adam will star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the ancient times anti-hero version of Shazam, and that’s about all we know. But he won’t be in Shazam. Johnson is very passionate about the project, and is producing the film himself with his production partner.


Confirmed at SDCC 2017

A list of films with actual logos revealed at SDCC 2017 seems to indicate these are the movies that are farthest along on the slate, and looking to enter production fairly soon. The movies, in order of reveal (though whether that indicates anything is yet to be seen), were:

Shazam!, Flashpoint, Wonder Woman 2, Suicide Squad 2, The Batman, Batgirl, Green Lantern Corps, and Justice League Dark.

But as noted throughout this piece, only Wonder Woman 2 has a confirmed release date out of that list, and only Shazam even gets a confirmed release year otherwise. This is where Flash was officially retitled Flashpoint.


Out of DCEU Continuity

The Joker origin film was revealed earlier this week, with The Hangover's Todd Phillips writing and directing the movie. It will be side-stepping the DCEU, instead opting to tell an origin for the character and not necessarily any previous film version of him. Leto is not expected to play The Joker, perhaps being replaced by someone younger.

This will reportedly launch a whole line of DC Films that don’t necessarily live in the DCEU, "in which WB can expand the canon of DC properties and create unique storylines with different actors playing the iconic characters,” according to Deadline. Just in case you weren't confused enough already.


Reserved Dates/Official Release Schedule

Alongside the initial announcement and some other announcements in the meantime, Warner Bros. and DC Films have been reserving dates for their films. These are not guarantees, and while speculation can match the films up with possible dates, WB has not directly connected any films to dates aside from those listed above. A January 2018 date was reserved shortly after the first ten film announcement, and has since been released, for instance (it was reportedly for The Flash). Here are all the officially held dates as of Aug. 25, 2017:

Nov. 17, 2017Justice League official release date.

July 27, 2018 – Almost certainly will be abandoned. No films in production that could possibly fit this date, originally reserved for Aquaman.

Dec. 21, 2018Aquaman official release date.

Apr. 5, 2019 – Possibly for Shazam, which is the next film to enter production.

June 14, 2019 – Also possible for Shazam, or one of the movies that won’t require as much of a budget or special effects, like the Bat-spin-offs or one of the three Suicide Squad sequel/spin-offs.

Nov. 1, 2019 – Originally a spot for Justice League 2, this may be abandoned, or could fit the bill same as the June date.

Dec. 13, 2019Wonder Woman 2 official release date.

Feb. 14, 2020 – Well, they are billing the Joker/Harley movie as a “criminal romance,” so this could be a prime slot for that, as twisted as it is. If they still plan to do Suicide Squad 2 first, this could also fit that, or Flashpoint.

Apr. 3, 2020 – A recent addition, almost certainly one of the SDCC confirmed films.

June 5, 2020 – Originally linked to Cyborg, with that film not getting an SDCC logo reveal and there now being far too many films for the number of dates, it might lose its slot to one of those.

July 24, 2020 – Originally linked to Green Lantern Corps, it could very well still be the release date for that film. Justice League Dark is another strong contender for this slot, as well as the newly announced Joker origin film.